RIP, Egg McMuffin Man

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By CHARLES FERRUZZA

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Last week, Egg McMuffin inventor Herb Peterson died at age 89 in his Santa Barbara home.

This brought back a wave of nostalgia. For many years my idea of the perfect breakfast was a cup of black coffee, a granola bar and a Marlboro Light. Then I went through a phase where I started each morning with an Egg McMuffin. They’re only 300 calories and so convenient: There’s a McDonald’s a couple of blocks from my house, and the employees at the drive-through window didn’t seem to mind that I looked like the unshaven, bleary-eyed wrath of God as I paid for my fast-and-easy breakfast and got the hell out of there.

After a couple of weeks, I decided I didn’t like Egg McMuffins either. The English muffins are too chewy (there were a couple of mornings I felt I was gnawing through jerky), the Canadian bacon is too salty and the fried egg tends to be rubbery. So I gave them up too.

But the news of Peterson’s death made me crave one. I drove over to my neighborhood McD’s and ordered one and ate it in the car. It was still terrible.

Later that morning, I got an e-mail from my college friend Slim, who was also waxing nostalgic about the McMuffin. We were sophomores the year that McDonald’s rolled out the McMuffin concept to all of it national franchisees. Slim insisted that the sandwich wasn’t just a great hangover remedy -- it never worked that way for me, by the way – but that it had been tastier back in the 1970s.

“I’m telling you that they were good then,” he e-mailed me. “Now they taste like plastic.”

This is the same friend who still insists that Twinkies tasted different during that era and that Hostess Sno-Balls were fluffier and that Long John Silver’s fried fish was – in his words -- as good as anything you’d find on the streets of London.

“It’s all the chemicals and artificial ingredients and processed stuff they put in everything now,” he wrote. “Why else would everything have tasted better in the 1970s?”

I wrote back: The drugs, maybe?

His response? “Those were better back then too!”

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